NSW Premier Kristina Keneally and Opposition leader Barry O’Farrell told an Australian Christian Lobby forum they would not strip back gay adoption to circumstances where a person had a pre-existing relationship with a child.

The Very Rev Fr Tadros El-Bakhoumi of the Coptic Church in Australia asked the leaders if they would consider revisiting the Adoption Act, which he said had the potential to deny some children the experience of motherhood or fatherhood.

“Father, I’m about to disappoint you,” O’Farrell told El-Bakhoumi. “I voted for the [same-sex couples] amendment. It was perhaps the hardest vote I have undertaken in this place.

“I voted for it on the assurance that there would be an amendment that would ensure faith-based agencies like that operated by the Wesley Mission were not going to be forced to engage in a service that offended their beliefs.

“Sometimes what looks like the perfect family unit is sometimes on the inside lethal.

“Having a mother and a father is the best template — it should be the safest place to be raised but it doesn’t always do that.

“My vote recognised the reality that there are something like 1300 children [living] with same-sex couples now… We had a situation in this state where single gay or lesbian people could adopt a child and many of those people were already in same-sex relationships … where a gay or bisexual or lesbian person could foster a child or enter into long-term care arrangements with a child under our laws, and [where] a parent decides to pursue another sexual path and there are children from that relationship.

“For me, it was about ensuring that wherever love and care exists that children have access to it.For me, it was about recognising the reality of our pluralist society.”

However, O’Farrell told the room he had supported Frank Sartor’s motion which would have allowed relinquishing parents to discriminate on grounds including sexuality and culture in the selection of adoptive parents.

Keneally also told El-Bakhoumi she would not revisit the Act, having already used her opening address to explain why she voted for the amendment.

“In Jesus, the law of all else is that we are to love one another, not just any love but an unselfish love, a love that seeks to mirror the love that God has for us,” Keneally told the room.

“I knew as a parliamentarian that there were some children in NSW who were vulnerable to being denied that stability, that love, and that this amendment would address that.

“So when I looked at the issue of children who were vulnerable, of children who had known and would perhaps not know any other love or acceptance and I saw people, regardless of who they were, giving that love to a child it was something that I as a Christian wanted to support.”

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